Bangkok Thailand: The Grand Royal Palace

I’ve been to a lot of Royal Palaces, like the daeksuk and gyeongbok palaces of Seoul and the Forbidden City and Summer Palace of Beijing; yet it doesn’t tire me to visit any royal palaces around the planet. Palaces appeal to me like a bee on flower buds. I’m attracted naturally, but I don’t know why? Maybe I’m a princess during my past life? :p Anyway, what made this experience in Bangkok’s Royal Palace different is that this palace still serves the monarchs of Thailand. Unlike the other palaces that I’ve been to, most of them are considered as a museum and are not used for royal events.

The three different architectures Thai, Khmer (forgot the other one) Burmese???
The three different architectures Thai, Khmer (forgot the other one) Burmese???

The Palace in Bangkok still serves the present Royal Family, however, it’s not the royal residence anymore, that’s why tourist (like me) are allowed entry, but sometimes royal gatherings are held there.

A guard standing firm
A guard standing firm, very detailed and exquisite

Bangkok Royal Palace is a popular tourist spot in Bangkok, hence, a lot of people flock to this place. The crowd here reminded me of my visit in Forbidden City during Spring— people are just everywhere, I almost can’t breathe! I can’t take a decent picture without a stranger sneaking in. So, my judgment: The royal palace in Bangkok is crowded. Period. So, if I’m going to choose whether to go here or Ayutthaya’s Bang Pa In Palace, I will choose the latter— Just because I like peace and quiet 🙂 But, the Bangkok Royal Palace is a different experience all together. Due to the pushing of the crowd (which made it interesting :p), the temples inside (big temples can be found here), as well as museums (that houses war artillery/ weapons during the ancient times) But if great landscaping and beautiful view is what you wanted then a visit to Ayutthaya is a must.

But, a must see here is the hand painted wall that depicts a story (though I forgot the story about it). 🙂

the beautifully and meticulously hand painted wall
the beautifully and meticulously hand painted wall

Like Ayutthaya’s Bang Pa In Palace (Summer Palace of Siam (Thailand) during the ancient times) you can see here various architecture from different cultures; hence you’ll see here buildings with Khmer (Cambodian) styles and European Style, however, the predominant here is Thai architecture. I also liked how the Western style kind of palace was made, I felt like I was in Disneyland!

Thai architecture is very detailed. What I like the most is the building which is made from hand crafted mirrors. They are cut with serious precision so that the sizes will be the same. I just love how detailed they do it.

Bangkok Grand Palace

Bangkok Grand/ Royal Palace

Khmer architecture had greatly influenced Thailand in the sense that they have almost the same style (this is only based from my observation), but just look at the picture below: they had a miniature version of the Angkor Wat, which according to our tour guide, they want to create something like the Angkor Wat in Thailand during the ancient times.

Angkor Wat replica in Bangkok's Grand Royal Palace
Angkor Wat replica in Bangkok’s Grand Royal Palace
Angkor Wat replica in Bangkok's Grand/Royal Palace
Angkor Wat replica in Bangkok’s Grand/Royal Palace

I suggest that anyone who will visit Thailand to visit at least once this Palace, since this is the symbol (icon) and the most popular tourist sight in Bangkok.

Details:

Entrance Fee: 500 BAHT

Operates Daily: 08.30 – 15.30

Address: Na Phra Lan Road, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok

Dress Code: Visitors are required to dress appropriately. Thus the following dress – code (applicable to both ladies and gentlemen):
1. Shorts, mini-skirts, short skirts, tight fitting trousers, as well as tights can not be worn as outer garments.
2. See-through shirts and blouses, as well as culottes or quarter length trousers can not be worn.
3. Sleeveless shirts or vests can not be worn as outer garments.
4. Sandals (without ankle or heel straps) can not be worn.
5. All shirt sleeves, whether long or short, can not be rolled up.
6. Sweat shirts and sweat pants, wind-cheaters, pajamas and fisherman trousers can not be worn.

TO SEE MY BANGKOK, THAILAND ITINERARY, CLICK HERE

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BANGKOK THAILAND: AYUTTHAYA’S DIVINE TEMPLES

If Greece has Parthenon,  and Cambodia has Angkor Wat, then Thailand has its own Ayutthaya temples. Ayutthaya, the former capital of Thailand is the home of several temples that had survived the test of time.

BTW, I RATED AYUTTHAYA AS A PLACE NOT TO MISS IN THAILAND!

ayutthaya thailand

As per my own observation and also according to our tour guide, the city of Ayutthaya was once a flourishing and progressive city with a lot of hub for trade (since it is circled by three rivers). The Chinese, Burmese, and even Westerners went here for trade. This was once a place where a lot of people traded, lived, eat, pray and love (charot! haha)

In Ayutthaya, there are several temples, they are just a few meters away from each other. Basically, it’s a whole complex of temples. Just like Siam Reap’s Angkor Complex. BTW, I was unable to  delineate each one of the temple I visited here in Ayutthaya (I failed to pay attention  to our tour guide, because in a way the names of the temples are just so hard to remember, it is even harder to pronounce!)  so in this blog post you’ll see a mix of pictures of several temples found in Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya was once a populous and wealthy city, which has its own palace and villages, however, due to wear and tear, and don’t forget to include the occurrence of typhoons, floods and other natural occurrences, the only thing that you will see here are ruins, (well, except for some that survived the wrath of nature). Basically, what is left from this beautiful and once flourishing city are temples.  The palaces and village homes are wrecked by nature because they are only made from wood, unlike temples that are made from rocks, brick or hard/heavy materials, the materials themselves explains why temples can stand the test of time. In Thailand, the temples are made from red bricks, and some are rocks akin to the ones found in Angkor Wat.

temple complex in ayutthaya
temple complex in ayutthaya

While standing in front of one of temples in Ayutthaya, I was imagining that I’m in Angkor Wat since the temples and ruins look almost the same with that in Cambodia. 🙂 However, unlike the temples in Cambodia (which is intact) here, most of what you’ll see are pillars and bricks. However, such fact did not make this experience less exciting since it is a different experience all together. And I just love the eerie feeling it projects! 🙂 Moreover, it is nice to visit one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Thailand. According to Wikipedia, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Historical Park, a vast stretch of historical site in the heart of Ayutthaya city, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since December 13, 1991.

The Angkor Wat-Like architecture seen in Ayutthaya, Thailand
The Angkor Wat-Like architecture seen in Ayutthaya, Thailand

Wat Phra Mahathat, Ayutthaya Bagkok Thailand

Wat Phra Mahathat, Ayutthaya Bagkok Thailand

The ruins show that this place is a prosperous city before, it can be implied from the different and magnificent structures built during that time. Through the use of your imagination, you might as well see how grand the place is during the 17th century.

Wat Phra Mahathat, Ayutthaya Bagkok Thailand

Ruins of Temples in Ayutthaya
Ruins of Temples in Ayutthaya

Wat Phra Mahathat, Ayutthaya Bagkok Thailand

Well, for me, the most amazing part in Ayutthaya is the beauty of the ruins with nature as its backdrop. By the way, the photo seen below is one of my favorite parts of Ayutthaya, I just learned that the name of this temple (which is my favorite amongst the other temples) is Wat Phra Mahathat. This temple  has a lot of small Buddha’s on its side (although most of the Buddha’s doesn’t have a head or a hand anymore)  and on the center is the bigger Buddha statue, and according to our tour guide the Buddha in the center have different costumes during different seasons.

By the way, the cause of the missing parts of the Buddha is due to a Burmese attack in Siam some decades ago. The Burmese intentionally cut off the heads and some parts of the Buddha statues. Although there’s a lot of headless or hand less Buddha’s, the vibe here gives me goosebumps, so in a way I like it here.

Beautiful temple with Buddha
Beautiful temple with Buddha
another view of my favorite temple
another view of my favorite temple

I was also amazed on the site where the head (statue) of Buddha is stuck in a tree root. This can also be found in Wat Phra Mahathat. This kind of thing made me remember tomb raider. Well Tomb Raider is shot in Cambodia but I don’t know why Tomb Raider occurred to me during that time.

The Buddha head that is stuck in a tree root
The Buddha head that is stuck in a tree root

According to our tour guide, this particular head of Buddha was cut off during the Burmese attack. And during that time a monk is trying to hide it, so that he can preserve it, however, it’s so big that he cannot carry it, so he left it near the tree, and after some time, the tree roots wrapped the Buddha head. I was amazed by this, since it is somehow miraculous that the face of the Buddha was not covered by the roots of the tree.

The Buddha head wrapped in a tree root in Ayutthaya Thailand
The Buddha head wrapped in a tree root in Ayutthaya Thailand

Wat Phra Mahathat, Ayutthaya Bagkok Thailand

By the way if you opt to take a picture with this tree, make sure that your head is lower than the Buddha head (so basically you should be squatting or seating), This is to show some kind of respect.

During our visit, there are only few tourist in sight, or let me say, there are none at all. 🙂 Or maybe because it’s not a peak season… (May??) Anyway, this is a place not to miss, you’ll learn and appreciate the place your visiting if you know about its past. And this is a good place to start. It is really a wonderful place, even my 4 year old nephew enjoyed this place.

In Ayutthaya you can also see a recent temple complex where inside you’ll see a big Buddha statue covered with Gold (Though I’m not sure if it is covered with real gold)

Ayutthaya Bangkok Thailand temples
Beautiful Thai temple architecture
The Golden Buddha
The Golden Buddha

There are several ways to get here, it can be by van (which is the most convenient, especially if you have a tour guide), by train, by boat (for scenic views). Here is Wikipedia’s how to get there page. Since I have no idea on how to get there except riding our van (I paid a private tour– I’ll blog about it later.. 🙂 ).

TIPS:

1. If you’ve never been to Angkor Wat, Siam Reap Cambodia, then this place will be exciting for you since the place is like the Angkor temples (well, more like Angkor ruins). And even if you already saw the Angkor temples, the place is still beautiful since it has beautiful parks, landscapes, and elephants on the “run” — err, elephants carrying people around with their driver… 🙂 

2. Bring and wear light clothing and comfortable shoes, and also clothes that will not show your knees or shoulders, it should be sleeved or else you will be forced to use their sarongs, which can cost you to up to P500.00 or 750 baht

3. If your tour includes a long tail boat, opt for the elephant ride instead, it is just so amazing and fun! If you are an animal activist (or protects the rights of animals) then instead of riding them, you can just feed them (It’s so much fun! promise!)

4. Don’t mind the vendors selling you souvenirs since usually they are a bit of a let down and also much expensive. Tell your guide to bring you in a market and start from there

5. Don’t forget to buy a sweet here (it’s ayutthaya’s specialty, however, I forgot what it is called)  It looks like hair, pancit/noodles (as thin as a hair strand) but with the color of a cotton candy, and you wrap it in something like a crepe or lumpia wrapper (for filipinos: it looks like a lumpia or turon wrapper. If you go to a market you’ll definitely find one. It really taste nice! and according to our tour guide the taste is different if you buy it in Ayutthaya.

TO SEE MY ITINERARY FOR THAILAND CLICK HERE

BANGKOK THAILAND: AYUTTHAYA: BANG PA IN SUMMER PALACE

On our second day in Bangkok, we went to Ayutthaya. It is the former capital of Thailand, just like Xian of China, Kyoto of Japan and Cebu of the Philippines. It is 1.5-2 hours drive from Bangkok. Quite near eh?? 🙂

Beautiful landscape of Bang Pa In Palace
Beautiful landscape of Bang Pa In Palace

Honestly, I’m a history buff however, my history “buffness If there’s such a word” is only limited to palaces, emperors, empresses, kings and queens, prince and princess. period. no more than that. I’m interested with anything to do with royalties, palaces and their grand way of life— As a matter of fact, I wished to be a princess! haha!  My Addiction regarding royalties pushed me to go to this place to explore (and imagine) the life of being a Thai Royalty during the past ages.

Well, to tell you, Thailand has still their King and Queens, so, it became the first country that I visited having a royal family. And to tell you the truth, I was quite envious! ha!

The only thing akin to China’s Forbidden City in Ayutthaya (what I mean here is a complex in which everything is still intact; not yet in ruins) is the Bang Pa In Summer Palace. Just like the Summer Palace in Beijing, it is used as a vacation place for Thai Royal Families about 400 years ago…

“It  is a palace complex formerly used by the Thai kings as a summer dwelling. King Prasat Thong originally constructed the complex in 1632, and though it lay empty and overgrown throughout the late 18th and early 19th century, King Mongkut began to restore the site. Most of the present buildings were constructed between 1872 and 1889 by King Chulalongkorn” — according to our tour guide

What I liked here is the moat with a pagoda and a bridge, and also there are carps or mudfish (I’m not sure what kind of fish is in that water) You can feed them by buying a piece of bread.

The bang pa in architecture, a thai looking architecture in the middle of a moat and at a back is a western looking architecture
The bang pa in architecture, a thai looking architecture in the middle of a moat and at a back is a western looking architecture
fishes living in the moat
fishes living in the moat

Here you’ll find buildings with different styles and concepts. In Bang Pa In Palace they incorporate  European, Chinese and even Khmer in their architecture.  This made me think that Thai royalties are quite open to get styles and influence from other countries. However, aside from the buildings, beautiful and well-kept gardens awaits you in Bang Pa In Palace:

Cute Landscaping in Bang Pa In Palace. Elephants are believed to bring good luck in Thailand.
Cute Landscaping in Bang Pa In Palace. Elephants are believed to bring good luck in Thailand.
bpi1
With my sis-in-law, mom, and nephew, at their back is the building with a Chinese architecture. Beautiful isn’t it?
bpi4
Inside the building with Chinese architecture. You will also find that inside is also very Chinese (complete with red pillars and all).
the handpainted tiles in the Chinese looking architecture inside the palace
the handpainted tiles in the Chinese looking architecture inside the palace
Bang Pa In Summer Palace, Thailand
Western Looking Pagoda
Bang Pa In Summer Palace, Thailand
Another beautiful pagoda amidst beautiful landscape

TIPS:

1. Wear comfortable clothing. Wear sleeved and below the knees clothing. Leggings are not allowed or else you’ll dress like my sister-in-law in the pictures above. A polo and a skirt will be rented to you or else you can’t enter the palace.

2. Bring water, since there are few vendors in the area.